Scouting South Carolina: how the Tigers win

Protect Tajh Boyd, keep Connor Shaw under wraps

Tajh Boyd and the offensive line

Photo by Mark Crammer

Tajh Boyd and the offensive line

Scouting South Carolina: how the Tigers win

1. Protect the perimeter: For the third straight week, Clemson will face a conference leader in sacks. The Gamecocks may have the nation's best defensive end tandem in Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. Clowney was just named as a finalist for the Nagurski Award and is a Bednarik Award semifinalist, and leads the Gamecocks in sacks with 9.5. Taylor, a senior, ranks fifth in school history with 18 career sacks. To execute their offense, the Tigers need to give Tajh Boyd time to operate, and Clemson can't afford big sack losses against a defense as good as Carolina's. Clemson held N.C. State without a sack on Saturday. The Tigers need more of the same this week.

2. Contain Connor Shaw: The Gamecocks' quarterback gave the Tigers the slip again and again last season, as he rushed for over 100 yards to complement a 200-yard passing performance. He comes to Death Valley as the Gamecocks' leading rusher.

3. Move the chains: The Tigers will need some big offensive plays to beat the Gamecocks; but just as important will be Clemson's ability to control down-and-distance and convert its third-down chances. The Tigers lead the ACC and rank among the nation's best in third-down conversions, while South Carolina defense is a challenge whatever the situation.

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